MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Country Roads Angel Network has announced an $80,000 investment in a start-up battery technology company established by a WVU finance graduate.
Parthian Battery Solutions, developed by Auggie Chico, is a low-cost eco-friendly method of repurposing electric vehicle batteries for use as residential and commercial solar energy storage systems. At the end of the battery life in a car, the system is still capable of storing 85-percent of the original capacity. The technology prevents batteries and thousands of pounds of toxic battery materials from entering landfills.
The project is supported by CRAN (Country Roads Angel Network), a Beckley-based non-profit specializing in early stage seed money with the help the of U.S. Economic Development Authority, the One Foundation, Massey Family Foundation, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, and the Charlottesville Angel Network.
Jeff James, investor and employee of a private energy company in Houston, Texas, also supports the project and believes there are even more good ideas waiting for the jump start CRAN can offer.
“We hope there are going to be more entrepreneurs coming out of West Virginia similar to what Auggie has done, where he has taken a concept and turned it into a revenue generating business,” James said. “Now, we get to hopefully pour some fuel on the fire for him.”
Electric vehicles are relatively new to the U.S. auto market, so most batteries are still in their useful life period. Parthian can take a battery not suitable for vehicle use and repurpose it for a number of uses, James said.
“Most people that I know don’t always hold their cars for 8 to 10 years and they’re trading them into dealership and it’s those automobile dealers that have to deal with these issues.”
The secondary market developed by Parthian is proven but still in the application development phase. Rural areas like West Virginia create unique opportunities to field test new applications for the technology.
“It creates a bit of a circular economy related to the batteries, putting them into solar storage units or testing them for other applications- I think that market is still developing,” James said.
Being able to store energy and transport it creates new, potentially valuable options for the private sector and possibly even defense. The technology also reduces some of the cost of energy storage, batteries and recycling.
“I think there’s a great opportunity when you pair it with a solar project,” James said. “One of these batteries can temporarily power a house or could potentially power a campsite and if the sun is shining it’s keeping the charge through the solar panels.”
Another potentially new market is developing a reliable accurate method to test and evaluate remaining battery life.
“As Auggie develops new ways and is able to prove out he has one of the best ways to test the batteries, I think that’s going to help the folks that have to handle these batteries,” James said. “Whether they are automobile manufacturers, OEMs or people trying to use them for a second life.”